A Blog is a Little First Amendment Machine


From Jay Rosen
The Huffington Post

July 28, 2009 Ukiah Valley, Mendocino, North California

When in the eighteenth century the press first appeared on the political stage the people on the other end of it were known as the public. Public opinion and the political press arose together. But in the age of the mass media the public got transformed into an audience.

This happened because the mass media were one way, one-to-many, and “read only.” When journalism emerged as a profession it reflected these properties of its underlying platform. But now we have the Web, which is two-way (rather than one) many-to-many (rather than one-to-many) and “read-write” rather than “read only.”

As it moves toward the Web, journalism will have to adjust to these conditions, but a professionalized press is having trouble with the shift because it still thinks of the people on the other end as an audience–an image very deeply ingrained in professional practice.

I’m going to tell you some stories that I think illustrate the disruptive effects that blogging has had, and the democratic potential it represents. But let me say at the outset that, though a blogger myself, I am not a triumphalist about blogging. I do not think that the age of fully democratic media is suddenly upon us because we have this new form. There is a long way to go if we are to make good on its potential.

Now to my five stories, which are I offer more as parables, even though they are, of course, true to the facts.

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